A bold statement, I know, but true. As a matter of fact if you are living a preparedness lifestyle you should be saving money by doing so. Let me first say that I am not talking about buying next week’s groceries this week because you know there is a huge chance you’ll be snowed in next week. I’m also not talking about the basics. You should have an adequate first aid kit and you should own a hammer along with other basic tools. I’m assuming you have a “normally stocked” household with many useful items.
What I am talking about is spending extra money each week on “preps”. When there is a news event that stirs people up, I can’t tell you how many times I hear, “No, this can’t happen, yet! I’m not ready. I don’t have enough …..” People are in a panic because they don’t have enough canned goods, ammo, or toilet paper.
I hate to break it to you, but having 100 packages of toilet paper is not going to prepare you for a storm, a regional disaster or an economic collapse. And most of us can’t store that much toilet paper and still have room for other things in our house like a couch or a bed. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against toilet paper and I stock up when the price is right, but I know that having a lifetime supply of toilet paper is not going to make my life better--now or in the future.
It’s the same story with food, water, tools, clothing, toiletries and anything else you can hoard. Spending extra money on things every week is not preparedness. It’s collecting. And the problem is that many people get the two confused. When you collect things you have to maintain them and keep track of them. When you are prepared you can make what you have work for you until you get out of whatever situation you find yourself in. If you depend on your collection to save you, you’re gambling with your life, because at some point your collection will run out. Then what?
The thing is that if you get to that point and your collection of food, water and other stuff has run out, then it’s too late. You’ll have to depend on the charity of others or resort to something worse to survive.
You shouldn't be spending money to prep, you should be learning new skills
The key to preparedness is having the skill to make what you have work for you. So it’s not about spending extra money every week. It’s about learning something or practicing a skill every week. You know how to buy an extra can of tomatoes at the store, but do you know how to grow tomatoes and save the seeds to plant new tomato plants when you need them?
You know how to store water and you have those water filters, but do you know where to find water when your stores run out?
You know how to grow beans, but do you know how to grow enough beans to feed your family and have extra to store for the winter? Do you know how to store beans for long term storage?
What about when your medical supplies run out? Do you know how to make simple remedies to ease symptoms?
Do you know how to mend a rip in a pair of jeans or sew on a button?
Can you make your own soap?
Can you build a simple shelf unit out of wood? Do you know how to mend a fence?
I’ll admit, it’s a lot to think about! Heck, my head still spins when I think of all the things that I don’t know how to do. Then I am in awe of the people who lived only 100 years ago, because they knew/did most of those things. That’s why you hear so much about how our grandparents lived when you start hanging out in preparedness circles. They knew how to take care of themselves with what they had. I think in some ways it’s harder for us, though. After all, they had no choice. They did what they had to do to survive. Today, most people do what’s easiest when they have a choice. We have the choice to buy a can of tomatoes or a bag of seeds. The can of tomatoes is the easier choice for most of us.
So we are faced with living in a world of comfort and having a choice of taking the easy way or taking the road less traveled and learning. It’s a struggle for most of us, me included. Our grandparents would say we are lucky because we have the choice. I think we are lucky because it doesn't have to be all or nothing. We don’t have to be off-grid and living off the land to be more self-reliant. We do however, need to be open to knowledge and learning, and to practicing skills some might consider outdated.
Community is another idea some might consider outdated. Today, most people don’t know their neighbors. There’s a reason these skills and ideas are outdated. A lot of them are just plain hard to do. Modern technology has taken over and made things easier for everyone, at least as far as physical labor goes. The thing is that 100 years ago you had to rely on your neighbors because often you just could not physical do all the work yourself.
When I hear people talk about their stockpiles and their lack of money to buy more preps, I worry about their financial health, because if you are living a self reliant lifestyle, prepping should actually be saving you money - not costing you!
If you can garden, even in a small area, you can save money on produce. Seeds are a fraction of what produce costs at the store. Even if you can’t garden you can buy produce on sale and then store it for at least a year. This is much cheaper than buying produce out of season and much healthier than buying processed food with preservatives.
Unfortunately, it’s not always true that you can save money by making your own clothes anymore. Material is so expensive and labor overseas is so cheap that buying off the rack is often cheaper. However, if you know how to mend clothes you can save money. Then if you are able to find material at a good price and are able to make your own clothes then you know they will probably last longer as the craftsmanship is top notch.
If you have a general knowledge of herbs and home remedies you can save your family a ton of money at the drug store. You can also rest assured that you are treating them naturally and not using drugs to relieve their symptoms.
If you have a general knowledge of carpentry you can build a ton of useful things or make repairs to structures. This can save thousands of dollars a year.
Of course making friends and acquaintances doesn't cost anything.
So the next time you find yourself perusing a ‘Prepper’s Are Us’ catalog stop and think if you really need what’s being marketed to you, or if you actually need to learn a skill that would allow you to be prepared without the shiny new gadget. If you’re in the grocery store and see toilet paper on sale ask yourself if you really need another package, or do you need to learn how to make your own?
What skill do you think is the most important prep? Do you save money living a self-reliant/preparedness lifestyle? How do you do it?